Buidling Dreams Together


McCabe And Russo Strike Late On To Score Arsenal Their First Three Points In The WSL

A drama-filled game at the Emirates saw Arsenal come back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 against Aston Villa deep into stoppage time as the Gunners earned their first victory of the 2023/24 Women’s Super League season.

On a sunny but chilly day, 35,839 fans descended on the Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal face Aston Villa, a team that beat the Gunners on the final day of last season.

The London-based side came into the game with only one point from their opening two games this season after a loss to Liverpool and a draw to Manchester United.

With no team losing more than two games in a season and going on to win the WSL in the history of the league, this was a must-win if they wanted to remain in title contention.

Manager Jonas Eidevall made yet more changes to the starting XI as Manuela Zinsburger returned between the sticks. Starters against Manchester United Stina Blackstenius, Victoria Pelova, Jen Beattie and Laia Codina all dropped to the bench whilst Katie McCabe, Frida Mannum, Caitlin Foord and Lotte Wubben-Moy all claimed their starting spots again.

Arsenal started much brighter than they have done in recent games. They were dominating possession and had some chances early on, notably when Villa goalkeeper Daphne Van Domselaar spilt the ball, however, a clearance by Maz Pacheco at the back post saved them from conceding early on.

It would be Pacheco who then went on to score for the Villains in their first real chance of the game that came from a Lucy Staniforth corner.

Arsenal’s defending left Pacheco unmarked as she headed the ball straight past Zinsburger and gave the visitors the lead in the 25th minute.

The Gunners looked unsteady for the remaining minutes of the first half, understandably frustrated by the amount of chances that they had but their inability to make them count.

Still, the Gunners came out firing in the second half with more energy and creativity that led to yet more chances. However, none seemed to hit the target as Foord shot from the left but hit the woodwork in the 67th minute.

In the 88th minute, Arsenal were still 1-0 down with their WSL title hopes on a knife edge but Eidevall had one last substitute to make and that was EURO 2022 Golden Boot winner Beth Mead who made her return 11 months after tearing her ACL at the Emirates.

The crowd erupted as Mead stepped back onto the pitch, coming on to replace Noelle Maritz. Not only did it lift the energy of the crowd, but it certainly looked to lift the players on the pitch.

Then it was announced that there would be 12 minutes added on and this is when Arsenal really kicked things up a gear.

It looked like it would only be a matter of moments before the Gunners would score and it was.

Pelova made a tackle in midfield which was picked up by Foord. She returned the ball back to Pelova who slotted it to McCabe who was making a run on the left and launched a shot from a tight angle that went straight over the head of Van Domeselaar and into the back of the net.

Three minutes later, Mead made her impact.

She looked to be taking a shot but instead cut the ball back to Russo who beautifully slotted the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the box.

After 94 minutes, the Gunners were finally ahead as they held on for the remaining minutes of added time to claim victory.

It was a gutsy performance from Arsenal that again showed real resilience and determination to not give up and keep pushing to the final whistle.

They will be looking for a more comprehensive performance, being more clinical in finishing their chances, but they have that ability to dig deep and win which will set them in good stead.

On the other hand, Villa remain at the bottom of the table alongside Bristol City with no points and a lot of questions. Though they were up for most of the game, they lacked creativity and attacking prowess with only five chances to Arsenal’s 28.

Arsenal will travel away to Bristol City who are yet to get a point this season in the WSL whilst Villa will face Tottenham Hotspur at home.

To stay up to date with all things football and sports, follow @DubSports on Twitter/X.